The Fragile Generation

Posted by CircuitGuy 4 years, 9 months ago to Culture
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If I read this ten years ago, I would not have believed it. From what I see, though, it's worse than the article says.

Many people believe the most harmless activities are too dangerous for kids.
- Playing tag
- Running momentarily out of line of sight of an adult at a park
- Any kids games not organized or approved by adults
- Playing by a creek or small neighborhood wooded area
- Playing games with a clear winner/loser
- A 7 y/o walking himself to the bathroom unattended
- A 7 y/o in a bathroom alone with only one adult present
- Using any basic household tools, even after instruction from someone knowledgeable
- Being aware of the cost of things and being expected to work for luxuries
- Resolving even the most minor disagreements among themselves, even if they appear to be working it out fine
- Riding a bike
- Hear any ideas they disagree with
- Going to the other side of the supermarket to fetch an item without a parent
- Walk anywhere, even a couple blocks, as a teenager

Basically, many people expect kids to take no action on their own initiative.

It results in bizarre behaviors. I've seen parents reach over to their teenagers pop can and open it, as if they were incapable. I've seen teenagers needing to pass through a change room to get to a pool, and the parent acting like it's a big deal, "It's okay. Go through the men's room. Just walk right through. I have to go through women's room, but I'll be right on the other side." Last week my 7 y/o forgot her lunch box at school, and I had her ride her bike back and get it. The school staff were confused why a parent wasn't with her. I went the same distance to a school a few miles from here EVERY DAY when I was 6 y/o, and no one thought anything of it. I don't understand what has happened.

I see these people who are 20 years old who have grown up this way, and they're very nervous about making any minor decision. They have real anxiety because every single step they've made in life had a parent hovering and orchestrating. They never heard an idea that made them uncomfortable or had to figure something out on their own. And now they're entering a world where just-follow-the-instruction tasks are relegated to computers and robots.

"Never heard an uncomfortable idea" sounds like hyperbole, but I mean it literally. A parent or adult is in earshot at all times tasked with resolving even the most minor discomforts. If someone says, "We don't like paying that game. It's no fun," a parent or teacher comes and immediately tells them which game they will be playing. "No excluding", no saying no to a game, no saying we must play a game, no negative language saying you don't care for someone else's favorite game. A teacher will orchestrate the game and be the benevolent dictator so supposedly no one's feelings get hurt. As a result, there are many young adults who literally have never had to handle how to respond to even the most trivial choices. Someone else made every little choice. Even young teenagers find nothing odd about their parent accompanying them to school. It's neat how they're close to their parents, but the inability to make decisions and deal with minor discomforts is VERY troubling.

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  • Posted by Solver 4 years, 4 months ago
    This has been happening for at least a generation. This also probably has to do with many of today’s younger adults expecting to be provided safe spaces everywhere they go.
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    • Posted by 4 years, 4 months ago
      I agree it's been happening for a generation, but I am not sure of the causal vectors. Something caused this, safe spaces, comfort flufflies, and other things. I don't think safe spaces caused this phenomenon. I do not know what the something is.
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      • Posted by Solver 4 years, 4 months ago
        Safe spaces are not the cause! Todays safe spaces, in colleges, Universities, and elsewhere, are an effect. These overly coddled children grew up, and now as younger adults many demand these safe spaces; or, did they ever really grow up?
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        • Posted by 4 years, 4 months ago
          "did they ever really grow up"
          The use adulting as a verb, so I think they did not grow up. I suppose you could call it "coddling", but that seems like the wrong word. There's letting kids run out and play in the woods where adults don't know what they're doing, and there's taking them to Kumon and Mandarin language classes every day after school. Are their structured activities "coddling" or was my freedom in the 80s "coddling"? I don't know. I think it's too much adult structure, which would have been hard when there were no TV channels that ran kids programming all day. Now that there are tablets with unlimited entertainment, it's possible to keep kids inside except for structure enrichment activities.

          I always remember a time when I got snow in my boot on the way to school at age 6, a few blocks from school and maybe a half mile from home. It seemed far then. My friends muddled through helping me and calmed me down. This would be seen as traumatic child abuse now. So maybe coddling is the right word. Something has gone wrong, though, in our customs of helping kids grow up to be adults.
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          • Posted by Solver 4 years, 4 months ago
            In first grade my parents would drive me to my school and leave me there to find my own way. In second grade I rode my new bike down a steep hill for about a mile. After school I had to push the bike back up the hill to get home. One time I lost control going downhill and crashed into a parked car. My bike and me were banged up pretty badly. People quickly came to help. Someone called my parents and they came quickly. Back then, child service people didn’t break into our houses and hordes of lawyers didn’t suddenly appear.
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